An Official Selection of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, Sony Pictures presents Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces. After Live Flesh, All About My Mother, and the critically acclaimed Volver, Almodovar teams up, yet again, with the effortlessly impressive Ms. Penelope Cruz giving us another gut-wrenching masterpiece.
Check out the review below…
- Writer/Director: Pedro Almodovar
- Cast: Penelope Cruz, Lluis Homar, Blanca Portillo, Jose Gomez, Tamar Novas
- Producers: Augustine Almodovar, Esther Garcia
- Original Score: Alberto Iglesias
- Editing: Jose Salcedo
The story is about a man who “writes, lives, and loves in darkness.” Fourteen years before the movie starts, he was in a brutal car accident that left him blind and without his muse (and love of his life), Lena. This man possesses a double identity: Harry Caine, the pseudonym with which he signs all of his literary works, and Mateao Blanco, his real name, with which he lives and signs the films he directs. After the accident, he reduces himself wholly to Harry Caine. Currently working as a blind writer, Harry Caine is assisted by his production manager and long time friend, Judit Garcia, and her son, Diego. Diego has an accident when Judit is out of town, Harry elects to take care of him – with all the downtime, Diego asks Harry about his former life as Mateo Blanco. Mateo reveals his past, specifically his experiences filming “Girls and Suticases,” and the vicious love triangle that evolved between himself, Lena, and the film’s producer, Ernesto.
- “Making Of” – While Lena and Mateo film “Girls and Suitcases,” Ernesto hires his son to shoot the “making of,” so he can spy on their on-set relationship. It serves as a parallel narrative to the primary story, but also as uncensored insight into the “reality” of Lena and Mateo’s “collaborative” relationship. It was an inventive excuse for Almodovar to subtly exceed his dramatic quota.
- Noir - The film has all the ingredients of classic “noir,” while still maintaining its contemporary flare. And, for a large fraction of the film Lena has all the attributes of the “femme fatale” – dark, ambitious beauty, a humble past but the confidence and inclination to take risks, etc. Juicy.
- Relationships - There is a massive amount of character-overlapping in this piece, and the fabulous complications only further enrich Almodovar’s plot-line. As the story unfolds, each character delivers a scandalous contribution to the chaos.
- Commentary on Filmmaking: I’m going to go ahead and clock in as the ardent film journalist and admit, without shame, that I dig movies ABOUT filmmaking. Yes, potential overkill. But in the case of Broken Embraces, it only strengthens Almodovar’s theme. He really dramatizes the importance of editing – specifically the relationship between editor and director. Who’s the REAL story teller? And how easily can a swap of a “take” re-shape an entire story?
- Length: I reluctantly admit the film is a little long. Did it sway my opinion of the movie even remotely? No. So don’t invest too much thought in this bullet point.
It’s hard to believe that Pedro Almodovar can top Volver – alas, Broken Embraces trumps with flying colors. It’s a fiercely engaging story, well acted, and beautifully directed. You would be a FOOL to miss this. I smell a Best Foreign Film Nod.